Summary: Jesus had many titles but He preferred to refer to Himself as the Son of Man. In calling Himself this Jesus is actually giving us a clue as to the true nature of His identity.
November 4, 2007
The Son of Man
‘Honorable’ ‘Excellent’ ‘Sir’ ‘Master’ ‘Gracious’ ‘Most Admirable’ ‘Liar’ ‘Thief’ ‘Wicked’ ‘Scum’ What do all these things have in common? They are all titles.
A title serves many functions. A title is something that is given to distinguish one thing from another. The name of a movie is its title. When I say, have you seen Braveheart you know what movie I am talking about because of its title. A title is something that is used to distinguish one thing from another. Titles are forms of distinction. Sometimes that distinction is not for an individual person or thing but for a group: For example the title: Doctor distinguishes between all the people who have spent years of life in school studying and earned their doctorate from all of those who have not. Titles are used to distinguish. The help us understand some differences that exist between things. Sometimes a title is also a statement of quality, name brands on clothing or products are titles. You see a t.v made by Sony and you know it is more or less reliable and a good product. You see a t.v made by George’s Orange Tree T.V Factory and that quality may not be as sure.
A title serves many functions. A title is used to distinguish one thing or person from another. However at the same time it can be used to associate people as well. To call someone Irish may be to separate him from all of those who were not born in Ireland or it may be to associate him with all those who were. Some titles are given not to separate but to join. When you call someone a doctor you may be separating him from all of those who are not doctors, or you may be joining him with all of those who are. Same title…many functions.
Now some titles are given, other titles are earned. Take a king. A king is born. They are the son of a king and start out as a prince. Then when daddy dies, prince becomes king. It is a title that is given because of birth. There are other titles that are earned. Like General. You are not born a general in the military. That is a honorable title that you earn by your quality service in the military.
This use of titles is nothing unique to our time. Titles have been around for thousands of years. Jesus himself was a man familiar with titles. He had many that were given to Him, and a few that He gave to Himself. One of these…actually one of Jesus’ favorite designations for Himself…the son of man.
Jn 12:34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
Jn 13:31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. Jn 13:32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. Jn 13:33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
The Son of man…Jesus’ favorite way to describe Himself. He will actually refer to Himself this way nearly 80 times. The Son of man is Jesus’ title for Himself. He has many titles…He will be called many things…but it is this title that He seems to prefer when talking about Himself.
One of the great aspects of a title is the revelation it may bring about a person that may have been otherwise unknown: the title doctor, at least ideally signifies a certain level of intelligence, the title prince signifies a certain nobility of birth. Titles can tell you a lot about a person if properly understood. So when looking at the character of Jesus…we would be remiss to skip over this poignant title. Titles however can do even more than simply tell you about someone…many titles that are given have a story behind them. So I want to take you back a few thousand years. Not to Jesus’ day…a few thousand years before that even. Rome was not yet an empire…in fact…Rome did not yet exist. The Greeks were not yet the leaders of the intellectual world…nor was the world so orderly and prepared for the coming of the Messiah. This time was long before that; before the intricate road systems…before the uniquely complex koine Greek language. This was the time of Babylon: the great an terrible empire that would build one of the wonders of the ancient world and one of the great empires that would enslave the people of God. I want to take you back to one of the most prophetic books in the Bible. I want to take you to a book that is matched only by Revelation in its prophecies of the end times…to the book of Daniel chapter 7:13